British South Africa Company

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The British South Africa Company (BSAC) was a mercantile company incorporated on 29 October 1889 by a royal charter given by Lord Salisbury, the British prime minister, to Cecil Rhodes.[1] The company was modeled on the East India Company and was expected to annex and then administer territory in south-central Africa, to act as a police force, and develop settlements for European settlers. The charter was initially granted for 25 years, and was extended for another 10 in 1915.[2]


The British South Africa Company was set up with the idea of extending capitalist interests on the African continent particularly Southern and Central Africa.[3] In the case of Southern Africa, the company operated from South Africa and it was responsible for the colonisation of Zimbabwe.

Colonisation of Zimbabwe

The British South Africa Company was responsible for the colonisation of present day Zimbabwe.[1] The colonisation process was realised through the use of the Pioneer Column which effectively occupied the territory and raised the British Union Jack flag which was a symbolism for colonisation. The BSAC hired and paid these mercenaries who were part of the Pioneer Column through mine claims and large tracts of land. Forts such as Victoria, Salisbury on 13 September 1890, and Charter were established by the BSAC through the Pioneer Column.[3]

The BSAC was involved in the Jameson Raid of December 1895, and they faced a rebellion by the Ndebele in 1896 which required the aid of British to quell. A further rising of Ngoni people in Northern Rhodesia was suppressed in 1897-98.[1]

Colonial Rule

Soon after the initial colonisation process, the company assumed administration of the Rhodesian colony. The Company began to make a number of laws which mainly revolved around land and natural resources.[4] Reserves in the Gwai and Shangane areas of Matabeleland were created and the arable land was given to the new settler community. Native Administrators and Commissioners were soon employed to assist in the administration of the colony. Locals were employed as tax collectors and scouts.

End of Company Rule

Company rule ended in Southern Rhodesia in 1923, when the white settlers were granted responsible government, and in Northern Rhodesia in 1924, when the British Colonial Office assumed control.[5] When the charter came to an end in 1923, white settlers were allowed to take control of the local government—as a self-governing colony in Southern Rhodesia and as a protectorate in Northern Rhodesia. The British Colonial Office stepped in 1924 and took over.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 , British South Africa Company (BSAC, BSACO, or BSA Company), retrieved:3 Jul 2014"
  2. A.B Evans, British South Africa Company (BSAC), "", published:2012,retrieved:3 Jul 2014"
  3. 3.0 3.1 , Zimbabwe: British South Africa Company rule (1890-1923), "Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa", published:December 2007,retrieved:3 Jul 2014"
  4. 4.0 4.1 , THE BRITISH SOUTH AFRICA COMPANY (Incorporated by Royal Charter,1889), "Souvenir of Rhodesia", published:1936,retrieved:3 July 2014"
  5. B Berry, Zimbabwe: British South Africa Company (1890 - 1923), published:10 Jun 2011,retrieved:3 Jul 2014"

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